AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional network that connects 774+ million professionals to opportunities with 57+ million employers. LinkedIn’s mission is “to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce”. Let’s talk about what LinkedIn can do for you.

 1. Define Your Professional Brand 

What Makes a Good Brand?

Having a brand differentiates potential candidates from each other. Brands work by showcasing the unique features of the person, making promises about their performance, and building associations with their network. In a professional setting, your goal is often to sell yourself. In this way, it can be helpful to reflect on what you offer to a business as a candidate for a job. To build your brand, you need a strong sense of who you are, what you can provide to a workplace and what makes you different from the other candidates.

Identify Your Brand.

Your brand is a promise to those around you. It informs people’s expectations of you; shows how you are unique and creates your professional reputation. Your professional brand consists of different elements; your skills, network and information.

Think about the careers you want to pursue. What skills are necessary to excel in your chosen industry? Research job descriptions to see what attributes employers look for in their new hires. Which ones can you list as strengths on your Linked-In profile, and where are some areas you can improve? Who do you know who can offer you guidance or connections in a professional context? What expertise can you bring to the table as an employee?

Show You're the Best Choice. 

Showing elements of your personality can help you to stand out from the crowd. Share your professional goals on LinkedIn; even if you don’t know what company or role you would like to have, mention the industry that appeals most to you. A person who doesn’t know whether to pursue zoology, veterinary science or environmental conservation may say, “I would love to work with animals in the future”, for example.

 2. Build Your Profile 

LinkedIn Profile Verses CV - What are the distinctions?

Your profile is not a CV; it has a much greater scope for detail.  There are no limits on how often you post, and you can expand upon each of your projects and achievements. Your profile speaks to all employers. It allows people to connect with you. It includes recommendations and endorsements. Overall, your LinkedIn profile is more dynamic.

Your First Impression - Profile Photo and Headline.

Members with profile photos receive twenty-one times as many views on their profiles and nine times as many connection requests as those with no image. Your profile photo should have the majority of the frame occupied by your face, a plain, neutral background. You should wear professional clothes and a friendly expression. Your headline is an opportunity to share not only your job title but a concise insight into you. Write your headline to include your most essential brand qualities. If this is the only thing the recruit reads, will they have an accurate overall sense of you?

Writing Your Summary.

Your summary is a great area to expand on the points in your headline, showcase your most significant accomplishments and introduce your brand. In the first sentence or two, start with a broad description of who you are. In the next paragraph, mention your top skills, essential experiences and core values. This paragraph can be anywhere from 2-6 sentences long. Finally, finish your summary with a sentence or two on your future goal. What industry or role would you like to be in in five years? If you are open to people contacting you, say how they can reach you at this point in your summary.

 3. Expand Your Network 

50% of Hires Result from a Personal Connection.

You have good reason to connect with a person if:

  • You know them.
  • You have commonalities.
  • They have a job you desire.
  • They may help you achieve your goals.

Click on “my network" and send personalised connection requests.

How to Send a Successful Connection Request.

When requesting to connect with someone new, always tell them why. Give this person context and make it easy for them to accept your ask. Your short message includes: who you are, how you came across them and, critically, why you are reaching out. If you meet someone new who could be a potentially helpful contact, send your request as soon after meeting them as possible, you want them to remember you.

Job Searching on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job searching. You can update your profile to show recruits you are #OpenToWork. You can search for career opportunities and set up email alerts for all new roles that fit your chosen criteria. You can review “Jobs you May be Interested In” and follow companies, many of whom advertise openings on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Laocín Brennan is GetAHEAD's first summer intern. He was the founder of DCU’s Neurodivergent Society, the first of its kind in Europe. During his time in DCU, he found that his vocation was not in engineering and found himself gravitating towards his volunteer work, which continues to give him purpose, pride and joy.

He is passionate about human rights and believes intersectionality is the only way towards a just, equal and idyllic society. Laocín valued his morals from a young age, but only began to become cognisant of ableism in 2013, upon receiving the first of many neurodivergent diagnosises. Now, Laocín is pursuing a career in disability advocacy with vigour in the hopes of being the change he wants to see in the world.

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